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churchplanting, ministry, women in ministry

Going Rogue?

One of the 'pews' at Sinners & Saints Sunday meeting place. Look, there's room for you!

Being a churchplanter is a strange thing in itself. Standing in line at a coffeehouse in Seattle, imagine striking up a conversation with your barista, who asks, “what do you do for work?” I answer, “I’m a minister,” enough to get a double take in itself even before adding the kicker, “and I’m starting a new church with a group of people in the U-District.” So now, I’m a woman, a minister, and a cult leader all in one. Even talking with folks who have gone to church their whole lives, thinking about churchplanting can be a new concept. How do you start a church? What do you do? What will it look like?

Over the past few weeks, there have been more interesting questions and comments. If you might not have a denomination to plant with, what do you do? What do you believe? And the big one that always comes up: Who holds you accountable and makes sure you don’t become a crazy cult leader?

Bearing in mind that I never anticipated being in the place we are today, It’s a great question. I have heard the same one from every person I know who is starting a house church or has been kicked out of their denomination for the same reasons we’re struggling with ours. So just who is it that keeps me accountable, and us as a community accountable?

For now, we’re working on it, and have come up with some measures to keep me from busting out the white nikes and kool-aid.

  • First, I’m in touch with a great group of ministers and friends who I try to skype with, call, or check in with regularly. Once a month, I get together with a small local group of ministers. Once a week, I skype with another churchplanting couple and we try to get real. Occasionally, I check in with a few trusted friends and mentors in the Seattle area who have been in ministry for a good twenty years or so. I’m building the networks of personal accountability, and trying to figure out how to provide good support for our congregation as well.
  • Financially, we aren’t accepting funds until we are officially registered with the state as a church. As long as the paperwork goes through, we’ll get a UBI and registered business name, and be well into our application for state and federal non-profit status in the next few weeks. This will enable us to open a bank account and have the financial transparency and accountability we need to start accepting funds and giving funds away.
  • And then there’s our community. We leave the door open to talk about everything, to brainstorm together about our next steps, and to decide together our dreams and goals together. I might have some ideas, or someone else could kick in something interesting. We are cultivating an atmosphere of openness, and trying to empower each person to see themselves as agents of God’s love in action.
  • It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. We’re doing our best to make sure we are never acting alone, and that we’re modeling as a church what it means to be present in one another’s lives. I have no interest in planting a church alone. If we become anything, if we do any ministry, if we come to any greater understanding of what the Gospel means in our lives and in our city, it will be because there is a group of amazing folks all working together who allow me to be part of that process. Thanks Sinners & Saints folks, I am so grateful to be in community with you.

    For all my churchplanting friends out there, what are your practices of accountability?



    One thought on “Going Rogue?

    1. Hi Leah. That book I was mentioning the other day is called “Reimagining Church” by Frank Viola (the library has it … well, actually, I have it, but it’ll end up back at the library) and a good third of the book is about accountability, with different chapters on oversight, decision-making, ‘spiritual covering,’ authority and submission, denominational covering, and the early church’s apostolic tradition. The book’s sort of aimed at house churches, but the bulk of the information is from the perspective of how the early church handled such things, so it might have some good perspectives to absorb and wrestle with.

      Posted by Steve | March 26, 2010, 10:55 pm

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    About Me

    wife, partner, daughter, and sister. traveler on the journey of faith. rage against the machiner. sometimes pastor.


    March 2010
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